Invasive snails spreading to more parts of Louisiana, could threaten crawfish
Experts at the LSU AgCenter say an invasive species of snail has made its way just south of the capital area.
The AgCenter said it found masses of apple snail eggs in St. James Parish after a crawfish farmer reported finding the bright pink eggs. High concentrations of the snails were previously found in Calcasieu, Vermillion and Lafayette parishes, with smaller concentrations in Cameron and Jefferson Davis.
Blake Wilson, an entomologist at the AgCenter believes severe weather and flooding over the past year may have contributed to their spreading. Wilson estimates that fewer than 3,000 of Louisiana’s estimated 200,000 acres of crawfish farms have been impacted so far, but those farms have been hit hard.
“They’re catching half the normal crawfish due to mature snails both clogging trap entrances and consuming the bait,” Wilson said. “In some fields, there has been more than a 50% reduction in the overall crawfish catch.”
Experts say they were introduced to the Louisiana ecosystem around 2016 when apple snails were sold in pet stores for aquariums as “Mystery Snails,” “Island Snails,” and “Giant Apple Snails.”
Jacoby Carter, a wildlife ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey Wetland and Aquatic Research Center in Lafayette, said the easiest way to destroy apple snail egg masses in the early bright-pink stage is to, while wearing gloves, carefully scrape them into the water where they will be unable to survive and hatch. Once the hatchlings start to develop shells and become white, it’s best to crush them.
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